Elevator Pitch

Elevator Pitch 2021

May 18, 2021

A good elevator pitch they say starts by introducing who you are.

Hello, my name is Susan and I have been a reading specialist, literacy specialist, and literacy coach in this district for the past twelve years. To clarify, this was all the same position. It just keeps evolving. I appreciate evolution as a being. Change for me is good. I want to keep learning, growing, and trying new ideas on for size. I went to college for actually forever. I have an undergraduate degree and three masters degrees. That seems a lot I know, but they are all related to children at risk. Children at risk for failing emotionally, physically, and academically. The children are my passion.

The Truth. In an actually elevator pitch, this part would be the summary of what you do.

Most elementary schools, if they are lucky have about 15-20% of students who fall into the at-risk category. In order to carefully locate those students who need ‘more than the core’, benchmark assessments are coordinated , then targeted assessments after that. After, during, and before assessments, there is teacher conferring, observations, and student conferring.

No student learns in a vacuum so to view the whole child, we have child study meetings where we get together and talk over specific student concerns in a learning community group representing our English Learning focus, our social emotional focus, and our academic focus. I believe in the consultancy protocol deeply. This is the core of my practice. We define the difficulty. We think of MANY possible solutions. We determine next steps.

Along the way, we also have to consider what is constructed in the core curriculum. In literacy that includes reading, writing, and phonics with further entail phonemic awareness and comprehension. That requires all of us to teach both the curriculum and importantly the students in front of us. Arguably most of the student in front of us are self-generating learners, if we point them in the right direction, provide the right tools and encouragement at the right spots, off they go.

The Ask. This is the time in the pitch where you explain what you want. In this case, don’t we all just want a little peace and understanding.

I know many of you have read about the rise in dyslexia and the equally increase in the ‘simple view of reading’ or the ‘science of reading’. In this world today, people tend to lean into absolutes. Here is the real absolute. Reading is about meaning. We read to make meaning. As I coach teachers and students, instruct and confer, it’s really about how can I help both teachers and students make meaning.

AND it is also true that we cannot make meaning if we cannot decode. Most student learn to decode in a combination of component practice (phonemic awareness, the alphabet principal, phonics, and practicing in decodable or right level text). This practice looks different for each individual in the same way that learning to cook, drive, or taking up running looks. The basic framework is the same, but based on our learning style, our learning gaps, our propensities, these things might have different elemental construction. What the science of reading shows us is that if we continue to keep a language base, a phonemic awareness lead, and a phonics description to word learning, most students will learn to read with relative ease. Carefully considering our practice assures this for most. Developing our toolkits for closer teaching increases this for all.

Call to Action. What I hope the listener will do.

So I ask you. Read carefully and in volume, information about the ‘simple view of reading’ and teaching for thinking skills. Remember that assessments are not diagnosis. They are merely indicators. Strengthening the tools available and the knowledge of how reading develops and what you might try if it doesn’t will bring us forward, always learning. Learning for each new students whose unique learning needs require careful, conscious, innovative thinking.

Thank you.

5 thoughts on “Elevator Pitch

  1. I sat up taller when I got to “the ask” of your elevator pitch. As the mom of a child with dyslexia, I have come to realize that she needs both a balanced literacy approach & systemic phonics instruction. When BOTH happen, she soars. When it’s just one of them, she doesn’t. I wish there were a place where I could share these experiences with the “powers that be” because I think my finding (from my study of one child) could help so many kids.

    Love your pitch, Susan. You can work with my daughter any day!

  2. Love your elevator pitch and the ask you find middle ground. This debate seems to be everywhere this year for me. Your words are spot on – balance and being responsive to the student. Thanks for your elevator pitch!

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